B-239413, Jul 3, 1991

B-239413: Jul 3, 1991

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CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Travel - Travel orders - Retroactive adjustments DIGEST: Employees who were on long-term training assignments may have their travel orders retroactively modified to allow reimbursement at 55 percent of the maximum per diem for the locality as authorized in 2 Joint Travel Regulations C4552-2h(3)(b) (Ch. 272. Of the reduced per diem rate that they were originally authorized. The travel orders were issued in violation of 2 JTR para. Et al.: The issue presented is whether six employees /1/ of the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA) are entitled to increased per diem payments. /2/ Four DMA employees. Were selected for long-term training at Ohio State University in Columbus. Travel orders were issued and in the block pertaining to per diem.

B-239413, Jul 3, 1991

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Travel - Travel orders - Retroactive adjustments DIGEST: Employees who were on long-term training assignments may have their travel orders retroactively modified to allow reimbursement at 55 percent of the maximum per diem for the locality as authorized in 2 Joint Travel Regulations C4552-2h(3)(b) (Ch. 272, June 1, 1988), instead of the reduced per diem rate that they were originally authorized. The travel orders were issued in violation of 2 JTR para. C4550 (Ch. 274, Aug. 1, 1988), which required prior approval by the Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee before the 55 percent per diem rate could be further reduced.

John A. Curtin, et al.:

The issue presented is whether six employees /1/ of the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA) are entitled to increased per diem payments. /2/

Four DMA employees, Messrs. Curtin, Higgins, Kendall, and Tifft, were selected for long-term training at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, for the 1989-1990 term. Travel orders were issued and in the block pertaining to per diem, the orders were annotated with a fixed reduced per diem amount or were marked: "Per diem authorized in accordance with JTR (2 Joint Travel Regulations)." The employees have been reimbursed varying amounts of $46, $28, or $25 a day for the period in question. Two other employees, Mr. Fields and Ms. Schulz, were selected for long-term training at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, for the 1989-90 term. Their travel orders authorized a reduced per diem rate of $26 per day, and the employees have been paid this amount.

The DMA points out that regulations in effect at the time the travel orders were issued, 2 JTR para. C4550 (Ch. 274, Aug. 1, 1988), required prior approval of the Chairman, Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee, to authorize a fixed per diem at a rate different from the applicable rate prescribed in the regulations of 55 percent of the maximum rate for the locality of the training center. 2 JTR para. C4552-2h(3)(b) (Ch. 272, June 1, 1988). /3/ Prior approval was not requested from the Per Diem Committee for any of the employees here, but the DMA has expressed doubt as to the amount of reimbursement because a prior request had been made by another component of DMA and a reduced per diem authorized for its employees who were attending Ohio State at the same time as the employees in question. In addition, the DMA had requested and received approval for a reduced per diem rate for its employees attending Purdue University for the previous 1988-89 term. However, a request had not been made for the term in question.

The DMA asks whether the six employees' travel orders may be modified retroactively to increase their per diem allowances to 55 percent of the applicable per diem rate for the locality. We have allowed retroactive amendment of a travel order where its provisions are clearly in conflict with a law, agency regulation, or instruction. Lawrence C. Williams, B-194792, Jan. 16, 1980. We have also held that travel orders which purport to limit reimbursement without proper authority are not competent orders and have no legal effect. Charles E. Robertson, B-242457, May 24, 1991.

In this case, the travel orders that were issued, purporting to apply a reduced per diem other than that prescribed by the regulation of 55 percent of the maximum for the locality, were issued in violation of 2 JTR para. C4550, cited above, which required the prior approval of the Per Diem Committee. The approved requests for reduced per diem for other DMA employees did not encompass these six DMA employees because they were approved only for those specific employees. The regulations were specific in requiring the employee's name, dates, and location of the temporary duty assignment.

Accordingly, the six employees' travel orders may be retroactively modified to allow reimbursement at 55 percent of the maximum per diem rate for the locality of the training centers.

/1/ John A. Curtin, George E. Higgins, James L. Kendall, Quinten M. Tifft, Michael L. Fields, and Sally A. Schulz.

/2/ The request was submitted by Edward J. Obloy, General Counsel, Defense Mapping Agency, Fairfax, Virginia.

/3/ The Federal Travel Regulation, Sec. 301-7.7(e), provides for a reduced per diem rate of 55 percent for training assignments of more than 30 days. 41 C.F.R. Sec. 301-7.7(e) (1991). See 5 C.F.R. Sec. 410.603 (1990).